Smita Das Jain’s ‘A Slice of Life’ is an anthology of stories on relationships, love, loss, and everything in between. It is a potpourri of narratives that chronicle human behaviour and is set against a contemporary background. Some stories will make you chuckle at the quirks of some people, while others will make you feel emotional, rendering a lump in your throat.
The subtitle of this book is ‘Every Person has a story’- and is reflected well throughout the narrative. The book is a compilation of eighteen stories of varying lengths. It has been subdivided into three sections- In loving memory, All in good humour, and What a relationship, based on the tone and the emotion. Some of the tales are connected to corporate life and how it was impacted during the pandemic, especially the lockdown, something that many readers would resonate with.
The language is lucid, and the text has been well-edited, making it a smooth and crisp read. My top three stories (incidentally, one from each section) are Forever Love, Much Ado about Nothing, and The Other Side. I like these stories for very different reasons; this shows the spectrum of emotions the writing invokes and the keen observation skills of the author.
Forever Love is an unconventional romance and traces the letters between a man and his ex. They have moved on yet remain in touch and reconnect as friends. The story spans over thirty-five years. During this time the two never meet yet cannot exist without each other’s letters. There is an unexpected reveal in the end, one that leaves the reader with a heavy heart. This story is poignant and soulful.
Much Ado About Nothing is of a different genre than Forever Love. It’s light, and quirky, and unfolds entirely through banter. Two women in a café speculate about a customer and wonder who among them has captivated his attention. I admired the self-confidence and the poise of the women and their decision to honor their friendship, rather than squabble over a man.
The Other Side is a very realistic portrayal of the way the world views a working woman. If she gets her work done and is good at it, she is labelled the ‘one who has it all.’ What the world doesn’t see are the cracks beneath the façade, and that success comes at a cost. There is always another side, and it may not always be what we think it is.
A special mention to Daddy’s Little Girl, the closing story of this anthology. It showcases a love so pure and filled with light, making you want to smile and cry at the same time. Having followed the author’s works on online platforms, I had high expectations, and this book did meet them. I felt that some of the themes were repetitive, though their treatment was different.
This book makes for a quick read, but one that stays with you for a long time. Hoping to read more of the author’s works, soon!
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